South Africans have spent R3 million on mini salt shotguns to murder flies – many with laser sights

Business Insider SA
Lorenzo Maggiore with a Bug-A-Salt
Bug-A-Salt creator Lorenzo Maggiore, in a training video.
  • South Africans have spent R3 million on miniature shotguns filled with salt, intended to rain down death on flies.
  • It helps that four out of every ten buyers are willing to pay extra for laser sights.
  • But sales of the Bug-A-Salt fly-murder machine have still been relatively slow, say its distributors, compared to Australia – so far.
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Update | SA is due to get big salt revolvers – rated lethal for cockroaches – but only next summer

In less than a year and a half, South Africans have spent a total of some R3 million buying miniature shotguns intended to be loaded with salt, and used to murder flies.

That, say the local distributors of the Bug-A-Salt, is still peanuts. It is expecting very big growth as that established base of people find joy in murdering flies, and become its sales representatives, selling the joy of salt-based fly murder to their friends and family.

The Bug-A-Salt was created by American artist – and a Chinese design and engineering team – and launched in 2012 via crowdfunding driven by a video with many slow-motion shots of violence being done to flies.

South Africans have been keen to buy the weapons ever since, say manufacturing company Skell, but at first it simply didn't have enough stock to spare, and later it did not have the right distribution partner. 

Now sales – online only, while it considers possible bricks-and-mortar partners – are being run by Macvad, originally a New Zealand company that specialised in trade with China, and which opened an office in Johannesburg in 2011.

It launched in South Africa in "reasonably soft" fashion in August 2020, Macvad told Business Insider South Africa, but has still sold about 4,000 of the guns, which start at R700. About 40% were bundled with a "Bug-Beam" laser kit, which sells for R350 if you buy it separately, to upgrade to "sniper status".

The laser sight greatly increases accuracy, the manufacturer says, and comes with the tag line "once they're red, they're dead". The Bug-A-Salt also comes with pop-up sights, a safety catch, and other elements you'd expect to find on a weapon that fires something other than salt, and at a range greater than one metre.

At that one-metre range, the Bug-A-Salt's makers say, the salt will not obliterate a fly, but will at least stun it, making for easy cleanup. That, and the easy pump-action arming and quick loading with salt, makes the weapon perfect for "insect hunting as a sport", says Skell.

Macvad found New Zealanders eager, and Australians "bananas" for the guns. It is due to start sales in Canada and Germany soon.

In South Africa, it plans a social marketing campaign – and it wants to spread more videos that illustrate the joy of murdering flies.

Update | SA is due to get big salt revolvers – rated lethal for cockroaches – but only next summer

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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